HANDS-ON: The Grand Seiko SBGY007 may just be the pared back snowflake you’ve been waiting forZach Blass
Whenever I discuss Grand Seiko with other collectors many express that they like the heritage Spring Drive models, but if the brand made a few minor layout changes they would absolutely love them. Personally, I have no qualms with the usual date and power reserve complications that are present, but I understand the purists’ sensibilities and wish for an absolutely clean dial. More specifically, a lot of people have noted that they think the SBGA211 Snowflake has a fabulous dial but that it would be next level if Grand Seiko were to release a time-only configuration. Cue the new clean and crisp entry to the elegance collection: the Grand Seiko SBGY007. While it is not exactly a Snowflake dial, it may just be the pared-back white metal Snowflake that fans have been waiting for.
The Grand Seiko SBGY007 has the familiar and desirable elegance collection case form we have seen previously with models such as the precious metal SBGY002 and limited edition SBGY003. The rounded stainless steel case is 38.5mm in diameter, 10.2mm thick, and 43.4mm lug-to-lug – the perfect classic meets modern proportions. Its 30-metre, water-resistant case is distortion-free mirror polished on the front-facing elements of the case, with a rich satin brush executed to each of the outer sides of the case. For added elegance and detail you will notice a hairline polished bevel to the outer lug shoulders that creates heightened vintage sensibilities.
To be clear the true time-only Snowflake configuration would be the SBGY002, but the reference is fashioned in yellow gold and commands a larger retail price as a result. The SBGY007, however, is made of stainless steel and therefore is far more approachable for fans of the brand. The dial pattern is not a true snowflake configuration, but to the eye it is definitely a cousin of the aesthetic.
The Grand Seiko SBGY007 has an equally intriguing nature-inspired origin story, its muse the frozen waters of Lake Suwa. According to Grand Seiko, “Every winter, something magical happens on the waters of Lake Suwa. When temperatures fall, and the lake freezes over – mysterious large cracks and ridges form across its surface, some as high as over a foot tall. Legend calls this Omiwatari, or where the Shinto gods walk out over the ice. This legend has inspired the craftsmen and women of Grand Seiko at the nearby Shinshu Watch Studio to create a timepiece that invokes the beauty of this natural phenomenon.” This is yet another evocative representation of the brand’s motto “The Nature of Time”.
The dial colour within its listed specifications and site renders is labelled as blue, but similar to the cherry blossom SBGA413 the tone is an exercise of subtlety. Depending on the lighting of the environment where it’s worn the Grand Seiko SBGY007 ranges from an icy white to an icy blue hue, and fortunately whichever shade it reflects in any given moment is absolutely stunning. Being a brighter dial the razor-sharp hands and faceted hour indexes are distortion-free mirror polished on all visible elements, an aesthetic and strategic choice to maximize beauty and legibility. When looking at the watch head-on in light the Zaratsu mirror finish will turn to black (shadow) against the lighter dial. The strongest blue element to the dial is the hand-blued central seconds hand that exhibits mesmerising fluidity thanks to the Spring Drive movement within.
The Grand Seiko SBGY007 is issued on a black crocodile strap with blue stitching and underside calf leather to pair with the icy blue tone of the dial. Instead of the more basic pin/buckle system, buyers are treated to a full-on deployant folding clasp in case-matching stainless steel to elevate the aesthetic and its sense of luxury. My understanding is that the lug width is 19mm, so while it is not the more ubiquitous 20mm, there should be plenty of aftermarket options available for this absolute strap monster. The 19mm width is also more fitting considering the classic vintage proportions of the case.
Inside the Grand Seiko SBGY007 is the in-house. hand-wound dual-spring barrel Spring Drive caliber 9R31. The caliber upholds the same 72 hours of power reserve we have seen with automatic Spring Drive movements like the 9R65, but its finish is very different. The 9R31 layout leverages a practically full bridge plate finished with a very eye-pleasing hairline satin brush horizontally across the metal. Blued screws, jewels, and even small cutouts to provide glimpses of the gears underneath. In the top right corner you’ll find a power reserve indicator with a blued hand, giving buyers the beloved complication without complicating the clean dial.
Grand Seiko SBGY007 pricing and availability:
The Grand Seiko SBGY007 will be available in July 2021 via Grand Seiko Boutiques and select retail partners. Price: $8,300 USD / $12,400 AUD
Made in partnership with Grand Seiko. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.